Sunday, April 9, 2017

Seasonal Lessons From Passover & Easter (and Cherry Trees)

One of the wonderful things about living in the DC beltway region is the onset of spring. Passover and Easter are usually ushered in by the blooming of cherry trees that line the Potomac River, the highways, and the neighborhoods surrounding our capital.

But this year, our beloved cherry trees were hit hard by crazy weather patterns. A heat wave initiated too-early budding and blooming. A severe cold front followed, dumping snow and ice on the delicate blossoms.

I have two cherry trees that sit on either side of my driveway and I eagerly await their bloom each year. This year, my beautiful trees were covered in brown, withered petals. I almost felt ill when I saw them and worried that my trees might be permanently damaged. 

I did the only thing I could do -- I left town for a week because I just couldn't bear to see my beautiful trees so decimated. 

But then I returned. 
And, miraculously, so had some blooms on my cherry trees!

Though the blooms were not as profuse as previous years, they were still beautiful. They reminded me of something important:

Never write something off because it has been hurt or damaged.
This is particularly true of people.

We all possess an underlying strength to conquer harsh circumstances and the winter storms of life only serve to help us tap into that hidden reserve of fortitude. We are made to miraculously overcome!

(At SOWW we get to observe inner resilience up close and at work in the Willing Warriors that we serve. They are our daily reminders of the power of the human spirit!)

Perhaps you have just weathered some difficult circumstances in your own life and things are looking pretty grim. As we enter into this sacred season of Passover & Easter, I would like to encourage you and challenge you to: 

Think on the Passover story;
Meditate on Easter;
Observe the Cherry Trees . . .

They all illustrate the story of Overcoming
of Victory in the face of death
of New Beginnings.

These stories are your stories too.

Wishing you a beautiful Passover & Easter A Year Filled with Renewed Strength and Vigor Good Things Blossoming!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017: Feel the love!

Who among us wouldn't rather receive a gift of warm, homemade cookies over a box of store-bought ones?  

There's just something about a handmade gift that says, 

"You are special; 
You are loved; 
You deserve my time and attention."

That's why we give a handmade quilt to every warrior family that stays at The Warrior Retreat at Bull Run. It is a warm reminder of SOWW'S "Home Away From Home" that they can take with them once their stay is over.

We have seen firsthand what these quilts have meant to our Warriors 
and the strong emotions that they have evoked.

This Valentine's Day, we wanted to say a big 
to the incredible quilters who donate their time, talent, and awesome quilts to the Willing Warriors + Their Families during their stays at The Warrior Retreat at Bull Run.

Your gifts are "love made tangible".
Everyone at Serve Our Willing Warriors salutes you 
for providing such a thoughtful way for our Warriors to 
"Feel the Love"!

A Valentine's Day Thought:

Life is less a Quest than a Quilt.
We find Meaning, Love and Prosperity through the Process of
Stitching Together our Bold Attempts 
to Help Others Find Their Own Way in Their Lives.

~ Keith Ferrazzi: Author     

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Simple Thought for a Happy 2017!

I like to plant good thoughts in my head; especially at the start of a new year.

I had been looking for an inspirational saying for 2017 and began digging through all my usual sources for finding great quotes -- you know the kind -- the great words that have been uttered or written by world leaders and iconic, historic figures.

I read through lots of incredible things said by renowned people.
But the words that really spoke to me the most at the close of 2016
came from a place I did not expect. 

As I relaxed during New Year's Eve, I was reading the premier issue of a new magazine; 

In the pages of this lovely new magazine the editor, Joanna Gaines, expressed a simple, yet difficult-to-master, truism that we often forget to apply on a daily basis.

Here are those wise words.

Look too far 
Ahead or behind,  
and We risk missing 
the JOY 
Intended for Here and Now.

There's a Certain Richness in 
that May never be Around Again. 

 . . . I Continue to Move My HEART toward 
Contentedness and Gratitude 
for What THIS Day and Time Hold. ~

~ Joanna Gaines ~

We Hope You
Embrace the Blessings of 
Every Day in 2017

From All of Us
Serve Our Willing Warriors


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah AND Merry Christmas!

Tonight the holidays begin . . .

We hope this finds you Healthy, 
Happy and Surrounded by Loved Ones 
on this Special Eve -- the Eve of Both
Hanukkah and Christmas.

Happy Hanukkah! 
Merry Christmas!

From All of Us at 
Serve Our Willing Warriors!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

SOWW (and Seuss) At Walter Reed This Christmas!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas Time is also "Anniversary Time" for Serve Our Willing Warriors. Years before we became a nonprofit, we started out as a Park Valley Church group created by SOWW founders: John and Shirley Dominick.  Our mission:  Giving Christmas gifts and spending time with the Warriors + Their Families at the Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir hospitals. Years later, we still begin every December with the longstanding SOWW tradition of handing out Christmas gifts to Warrior Families, much like a pack of Santa's elves.

This year began with a bang -- but not the fun kind!  As we began loading our U-Haul with gifts, a container holding stocking stuffers fell off the truck and sent bottles flying! Does this kind of stuff happen to Santa when he loads his sleigh?

Fortunately, we brought along some little elves of our own (brothers Ben & Zander Ward) who got right to work retrieving bottles underneath the truck!

Older brother Ben is also one of our amazing fundraisers!  
For this event, he served as the SOWW representative of the 
USO's Dr. Seuss Theme for this Christmas event. 
What a multi-tasker!
Ben Ward (i.e.: The Cat in the Hat) standing by the trees filled with mistletoe at The Bull Run Warrior Retreat.
This year the Walter Reed festivities were hosted at the beautiful USO building.
It was pretty easy to spot due to the amount of elves scattered about the premises.

Team SOWW scurried to set up our tables piled full of
Vint Hill special blend coffee & mugs, warm fuzzy blankets, gift cards, SOWW Christmas ornaments, and handmade Warrior Holiday cards from local schools (plus cookies and candies). 

I don't mean to brag, but we definitely had the cutest elves onsite!
The Ward Bros. manned both ends of the tables to hand out SOWW bags to Warriors to collect their Christmas goodies.

Team SOWW in action:
Giving gifts and sharing information on 
The Bull Run Warrior Retreat.

Outside the excitement builds.
Santa is scheduled to arrive at any minute!

Once Santa arrived, the room overflowed with Warrior Families lining up to meet 
The Elf in Chief!

That Santa! (He gets around!)
Here he is -- planting a saucy smooch on one of the Gold Star Mothers (Maryland Chapter)!

Some additional Elves (non-affliated with Santa) pose with their table of Christmas toys 
collected for the children of our Warrior Families. 

The Bull Run Warrior Retreat sign-up list filled with over two pages of Warriors hoping to stay at the retreat in the future.

We also got to visit with some previous retreat guests!

Captain Reer and her personal SOWW advocate, Ben Ward.

After hours of gift-giving, we handed out the very last of our blankets, coffee packs and gift certificates.

Mission Accomplished
for the 2016 SOWW Gift-Giving at Walter Reed!

We said our farewells and headed back to Haymarket to gear up for the upcoming visit to Fort Belvoir.

Until next year . . . 
Merry Christmas to All at Walter Reed!

PS:  Many thanks to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the USO Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda and their support staff who, once again, opened their doors and allowed us to participate in this heartwarming event.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7th . . . A Day of Remembering

Some events reshape the world.  
We remember those days.
Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
And we remember.

On this day in 1941, over 300 Japanese bombers destroyed five battleships, three destroyers, seven additional ships and killed over 2000 Americans in a surprise and unprovoked attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in the US Territory of Hawaii.

The enormity of the attack shocked the world.
America responded immediately by declaring war on Japan the very next day. 
Three days later the U.S. declared war against Germany and Italy.

One event affected the entire world.
When we look back, we picture large swathes of devastation; explosions, burning ships, and the sky blotted out by the black cumulus clouds of smoke.

Sometimes we forget to remember that devastation on such a monstrous scale consists of thousands of smaller devastating losses.

Losses like a Husband or a Wife;
a Father or a Mother;
a Son or Daughter.

As we pause to remember Pearl Harbor,
let's also take some time to remember the individual sacrifices of
our Willing Warriors + Their Families from every generation.

Remember them gratefully. 
And Pray for Peace.